Learn from your ex

What did you learn from your ex? It’s so easy to write off our exes as bad mistakes and unfortunate occurrences or try to forget they ever existed at all. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who managed to ‘consciously uncouple’ and end the relationship with no hard feelings, it can be very difficult to be grateful for how the time impacted you on a deeper level. Regardless of the ins and outs of what went wrong however, it’s guaranteed that a relationship will have taught you something about yourself and it’s up to you to unravel and receive that information. There is so much you can learn.

Your behaviour

When we are intimately connected with other people it goes without saying that there will be surprises and challenges to pop up from time to time during our interactions with one another. We all operate in the world based on perception and how we’ve been conditioned by our immediate environments and wider world. Even if we come into contact with someone who has a similar background to our own, there are still likely to be significant differences, at least from time to time, in how we respond to the same situations.

When thinking back to any good or hard times with a partner, we want you to not only look at the facts of the situation, but also to try and observe it from afar. If enough time has passed, you can do this by taking on the role of impartial observer and studying yourself in hindsight, in the same way you might study your partner’s actions. Watch every aspect of your own behaviour in your memory, from the way you’re standing or the look on your face, to what your dominant train of thought or speech was at the time.

The reason this is so effective a way of realising what you’ve learned from previous relationships is because you give yourself permission to step out of the emotions and experience the moments as pure information.


Looking back, do you see you are someone who is deeply defensive about your parents, no matter if they are right or wrong? If so, how might this feel to someone who wants to be first priority in your life?

Looking back, do you see how by not speaking up the moment you knew there was a problem only demonstrated how lacking in confidence you are? Do you see this was part of the reason things always escalated beyond where they should?

Looking back, at how patient or forgiving you were, do you now realise why it was so easy for a partner to take advantage, or miss the signals that you were unhappy?

Stepping back into old relationships and examining them may be something you feel adverse to doing for many reasons. Whether you weren’t happy with how it ended, still long for your ex, or wish you had both behaved differently, there is still the opportunity to learn and it must be taken.

Where were the compromises and who made them?

When you are in the midst of a relationship it can be incredibly easy to not realise how many compromises are being made. We get swept up in the flow of our love, our feelings and also what’s expected of us. As crazy as it sounds, the big important things in our life that truly matter and affect the future we envision for ourselves, can gradually become eroded and forgotten in the light of it all.

When surveying your past experiences, think about how many compromises not only you yourself made, but that you requested from the other person. How did those compromises affect you and the relationship between you both? Did you learn that you’re too ready to sacrifice yourself for someone else, that you’re more loyal to a partner than you are your own life’s goals? Or did you learn that you’re capable of demanding huge compromises from someone without fully understanding the impact it will have on their world. It could have been that simply by communicating uncertainty, someone has committed to you in the hope of gaining something that deep down you have never wanted to provide.

The point of stepping back into old relationships and thinking about what happened is not to dwell in blame or guilt, or any sort of judgement, it’s to acknowledge that rarely are things a waste of time. When we do consider them a blip to be erased, what it predominantly means is that we haven’t learned the lesson it was supposed to teach us, and that there’s a strong possibility we will continue the pattern until we do.

Your unmet relationship needs

It is also worth contemplating what exact and specific needs you had that were not met within any relationship. These could be sexual, financial, emotional, really anywhere you feel there was a deficit in either being able to receive or give. No only do we as human beings have gifts of love, affection, adoration, appreciation that we want to be imparted to us, there is too a desire to be with someone willing and able to receive these offerings in return.

Before you enter into a new relationship, be really clear about what was good about your ex and the life you had together, be clear about what was lacking, what there was too much of and what is an absolute non-negotiable moving forwards. The better you know yourself and your history, the less likely you are to fall at the same hurdles and repeat it.

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